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I've Studied False Rape Claims. The Accusation Against Kavanaugh Doesn't Fit The Profile; 2018: Year Of The Woman In U.S. Politics; Thousands Of Residents In Danger As Rivers Rise; Evacuees Can Now Check Homes Online Via Aerial Images. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 19, 2018 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The woman accusing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault in high school is calling for an FBI investigation before she appears at a Senate hearing.

Stormy Daniels' new book, shocking and salacious. She tells all about her alleged illicit encounter with Donald Trump -- and we mean all.

And an era of no war on the Korean Peninsula. The leaders of North and South Korea strike a denuclearization deal in Pyongyang.

Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


CHURCH: There's potential new trouble for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The woman accusing him of sex assault more than 30 years ago says she wants a FBI investigation before she testifies in public.

Christine Blasey Ford says a drunken Kavanaugh held her down and tried to take off her clothes when they were in high school. Kavanaugh denies the allegation. Now Blasey's attorney says her client is getting death threats and has essentially gone into hiding.


LISA BANKS, CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD'S ATTORNEY: It is premature to talk about a hearing on Monday. And I think people understand that because she has been dealing with the threats, the harassment and the safety of her family. That's what she's focused on for the last two days and will continue to focus on that.

So asking her to come forward in four or five days and sit before the Judiciary Committee on national TV is not a fair process.

And if they care about doing the right thing here and treating this seriously, as they have said, then they will do the right thing and they will properly investigate this and she will work with them in that investigation and also to share her story with the committee, however that happens.


CHURCH: Now the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley says nothing the FBI does will have any bearing on what Blasey Ford tells the committee. He says there's no reason for any further delay. That message will likely be welcome news for the White House. CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's an incredible individual. Great intellect. Great judge.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump standing by his Supreme Court nominee today projecting confidence.

TRUMP: Impeccable history. In every way. In every way.

COLLINS: Even though for most of Washington, Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation is now an open question ahead of a scheduled public hearing with the woman who says he sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

TRUMP: I feel so badly for him that he's going through this, to be honest with you. I feel so badly for him. This is not a man that deserves this.

COLLINS: Kavanaugh has denied the allegation and the president is blaming Democrats, claiming they waited too long to release the woman's claim.

TRUMP: And because they obstruct and because they resist. That's the name of their campaign against me.

So I don't want to play into their hands.

COLLINS: Senator Dianne Feinstein was made aware of the allegations earlier this summer, but she says she kept them confidential at the request of the accuser. Trump disagreeing with Senate Democrats who say the FBI should get involved.

TRUMP: The FBI, John, said that they really don't do that. That's not what they do.

COLLINS: The president making no mention of Christine Blasey Ford's name today but urging her to publicly tell her story.

TRUMP: Hopefully, the woman will come forward. State her case.

COLLINS: Trump sounding sure of Kavanaugh's innocence.

TRUMP: He will state his case before representatives of the United States Senate. And then they will vote.

COLLINS: The president says he still hasn't spoken with Kavanaugh, who spent a second day in a row at the White House today with sources describing him as flabbergasted and shaken as the administration mounts a defense.

TRUMP: Judge Kavanaugh is anxious to do it. I don't know about the other party. But Judge Kavanaugh is very anxious to do it.

COLLINS: As Trump vigorously defends his nominee, ordinary moments from Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing are now back in the spotlight.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HAWAII), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Since you became a legal adult have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?


HIRONO: Have you ever faced discipline or entered into a settlement related to this kind of conduct?


COLLINS: Now President Trump has been measured in his responses so far to these allegations. But today we saw the first glimpse --


COLLINS: -- that President Trump himself has doubts about their veracity, pointing to the fact that the alleged incident happened more than three decades ago.

Now when President Trump was asked if he believes this is all just politics, he said he wasn't ready to answer that question yet but he might in the coming days -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: And joining me now from Colchester in England, Natasha Lindstaedt is a professor of government at the University of Essex.

Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So as we've seen President Trump standing by his Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh despite his confirmation being in jeopardy but Christine Blasey Ford said she won't testify Monday unless there's an FBI investigation. And it doesn't look like that is going to happen.

So where does that leave Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing if it continues on without delay, leaving people wondering about these sexual assault allegations? LINDSTAEDT: It looks like, if you look at some of the signals from the Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee, they're going to go ahead with the vote that, if she does not testify, they don't seem to be interested in going ahead with her request to have an FBI investigation.


LINDSTAEDT: They say they've offered her a chance to have a hearing and if she does not agree to testify, they're just going ahead with the confirmation.

CHURCH: Doesn't that leave a cloud over Brett Kavanaugh from here and forever?

This is a lifelong post he'll take up.

LINDSTAEDT: Well, it leaves a huge cloud over this nomination. You have to remember this was a nominee that is probably one of the least liked nominees in recent history for Supreme Court.

You have slightly more of the public not thinking that he should be confirmed. So it does leave a huge cloud over him. There's also a huge cloud over him because he was nominated by President Trump, who is himself in the middle of -- his administration is in the middle of a huge investigation.

But the Republicans are very, very determined to get this nominee through before the November midterm elections.

CHURCH: Clearly that is the deadline, isn't it?

So instead of rushing to get this confirmation process concluded as quickly as possible, does it make more sense for the president to direct the FBI to investigate these allegations, as was done in the Anita Hill during the confirmation of Clarence Thomas back in 1991?

Someone is not telling the truth here and the people of America, the voters of America will want to know who is telling the truth.

LINDSTAEDT: Well, Trump and the Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee weren't really treating the process very fairly. They said, we're going to allow a hearing with only two individuals at the hearing. That would make it a he said/she said.

In order to really prove what happened, you have to have an investigation. This would be part of the FBI's background investigation to corroborate what took place. Basically that's what Professor Ford is hoping for.

Otherwise, it becomes just a media circus and then others could say, well, I believe her. Some could say I believe him. There was really no way to prove what happened. But it doesn't look like President Trump is going to order any kind of FBI investigation. He stated publicly that this is unnecessary. CHURCH: This despite him saying she should have her say. But President Trump appears to make this an midterm election issue. He tweeted this a few hours ago.

"The Supreme Court is one of the main reasons I got elected president. I hope Republican voters and others are watching and studying the Democrats' playbook."

At a news conference, in that report we ran, on Tuesday, Mr. Trump says the Democrats resist and obstruct. They resist and obstruct. Now if he pushes to make this a midterm election issue, which he seems to be doing, is it going to work for him?

Or could it possibly backfire when it comes to female voters over this very issue?

LINDSTAEDT: I think there's so many issues that people are voting on. It is one issue but actually upholding Roe v. Wade is something that most, not all, but most of the U.S. population is in favor of. It will probably backfire in terms of female voters. I don't think it'll do much to affect his base, however.

CHURCH: Natasha Lindstaedt, thank you so much for joining us, bringing your perspective and analysis to this topic. We appreciate it.

Move on to another big story we are following, South Korea's president said the era of no war has started on the Korean Peninsula. During his summit with North Korea's --


CHURCH: -- Kim Jong-un, South Korean president Moon Jae-in said both leaders agreed to work toward complete denuclearization and they also agree to a joint military pact, plans to link their railways and cooperate on healthcare and for Kim to visit Seoul in the near future.

President Trump later weighed in, tweeting "Kim Jong-un has agreed to allow nuclear inspections subject to final negotiations and to permanently dismantle a test site and launchpad in the presence of international experts. In the meantime, there will be no rocket or nuclear testing. Hero remains to continue being returned home to the United States. Also North and South Korea will file a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics. Very exciting."

Our Paula Hancocks joins us from Seoul with more.

A very ambitious list of agreements and goals there coming out of that second day of the inter-Korean summit. And on top of the list was scrapping the North Korean nuclear facility with international experts watching on.

What does North Korea want in return from the United States?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What North Korea agreed to in the agreement that Kim Jong-un signed is that they will actually scrap Punggye-ri. This is the missile test site that Trump had already talked about. The U.S. president had talked about after the Singapore summit, saying Kim Jong-un had agreed to shut that down.

Now when it comes to the Yongbyon research facility, that has not been agreed to yet. This is conditional, according to the South Korean president and the declaration they signed, saying if the U.S. gives corresponding measures, North Korea would be willing to shut this down as well.

It is playing back into what North Korea says it wants. It wants a step-by-step process of denuclearization, something that Washington has said before they wouldn't accept. The want a full denuclearization. Then they would consider concessions, potential lifting of sanctions.

But as you said, we have had a tweet from the U.S. president, Donald Trump, he welcomed these developments. He's said that they're very exciting. Specifically from the nuclear test site point of view, that's not agreed to at this point. It is a conditional suggestion that North Korea says if the U.S. gives us something they will give that back in return.

CHURCH: As we heard from the tweet, President Trump very excited about this and it has to be said, this is an incredible list of achievements coming out on the second day of the three-day summit.

So what will likely come out on the third day?

And what is expected in the long run with this?

This is what America wanted, the move toward denuclearization.

HANCOCKS: It is an ambitious list. It's a wide ranging list of issues. Certainly from the inter-Korean point of view, the military agreement signed seemed to be wide ranging. The fact they're trying make sure there will not be any military skirmishes along the border and the maritime border. There making sure that they're demilitarizing, they said the joint security zone, the joint security area of the DMZ, this is where North and South Korean soldiers have been facing off against each other for decades.

That's certainly very wide ranging. When it comes to day three, we just heard in the past few minutes that Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un will visit the Paektu mansion. This is very significant from the Korean point of view. It is considered the spiritual homeland for the Koreans, a very sacred mountain.

The fact that they will visit this mountain will be seen as significant; in fact, we heard from a report with Moon Jae-in flying over to Pyongyang. He said he always wanted to visit this mountain. It spans the Korean and the Chinese border.

He never wanted to visit from the Chinese side because he wanted to wait until he could do it from the Korean side. So from their point of view, this would be a significant move. CHURCH: Yes, so much coming out of the second day and the mind boggles to wonder what will come out of the third day. We shall see. Our Paula Hancocks, joining us live from Seoul at 3:15 in the afternoon. Many thanks.

China is firing back at the latest U.S. plan for tariffs. President Trump announced Monday he would impose a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports beginning next week. On Tuesday, Beijing announced it in turn will tax $60 billion worth of U.S. goods. Mr. Trump has promised a third phase of tariffs if China retaliates.



TRUMP: We just started. We didn't do anything with respect to China because we wanted to have the benefit of China having to do with North Korea. And they have been helpful. I hope they're still helpful. There's a question about that. But it got to a point where the numbers were too big. This should have been done for the last 20 years.


CHURCH: And for more on this escalating battle, Matt Rivers joins us now live from Beijing.

So Matt, China has hit back, we know that the United States will hit back again. We're seeing this tit for tat trade tariffs going here.

What is the end game?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If anyone was hesitant to call it a trade war, you don't need to hesitate anymore. We're well underway with what you could say is the largest trade conflict between the United States and China in their trading history.

What is going on now, China will put the $60 billion in additional tariffs on U.S. imports here, starting the same day that the U.S. will put their new tariffs on Chinese imports -- that will be next Monday -- $60 billion from the Chinese side and 5 percent or 10 percent will be the tariff rate; 5,207 American products targeted.

Products ranging from nuts to alcoholic beverages to furniture to machinery, it really is a wide ranging list. By China putting $60 billion in additional tariffs on, when you tack that on the $50 billion already in place, you're talking about tariffs on nearly all American imports here to China.

If you thought China would back down due to the latest threats, the opposite is the case. The big question that is still unanswered from the Chinese side, is we're in negotiations that the U.S. offered to the Chinese side just last week. Those negotiations would appear to be in doubt but the Chinese has not formally canceled them.

CHURCH: Matt Rivers keeping an eye on that. Many thanks to you. We'll take a short break right here. Still to come, "Full

Disclosure," the porn star who says she had an affair with Donald Trump has a tell-all book and the details are salacious and disturbing.





CHURCH: We're getting our first look at another book President Trump won't probably read. "Full Disclosure" includes details about the alleged affair between Donald Trump and porn star Stormy Daniels. CNN has obtained a copy of her new tell-all book. If you have children around, you may want to get them out of the room for this next report. Here's our Sara Sidner.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In her tell-all book, Stormy Daniels writes that her first sighting of Donald Trump in 2006 in his hotel suite in Lake Tahoe was shocking.

"Trump came swooping in wearing black silk pajamas and slippers," she writes.

"'What are you doing?' I yelled. 'Go put some F-ing clothes on.'"

She writes that he changed and they both joked about his hair.

"I pointed to his hair, 'What's going on with this?'

"'I know,' he said with a smile, 'it's ridiculous.'"

She said the two talked about family.

"'What would your wife think of you being here with me?'," Stormy writes.

"'Don't worry about that,' he said, 'it's not a big deal. And anyway, we have separate bedrooms.'"

She writes Trump then brought out a picture of Melania holding their son, Barron, who was just four months at that time. And when Daniels came out of the bathroom, she claims Trump was lying on the bed in his underwear. They had sex.

She then describes his genitalia in great detail.

"His penis is distinctive in a certain way," she writes, proof her attorney, Michael Avenatti, says she is tired of being called a liar by Trump's people. Daniels said the night of her sexual encounter with Trump, he invited her to a club. She showed up to find Trump and NFL Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger talking.

She writes Trump eventually suggested Roethlisberger walk her to her hotel room.

At the door, Daniels writes, Roethlisberger asked her a question while pushing lightly on her door.

'How about a good night kiss?'

"I was terrified," she writes. "I am rarely terrified. He stood outside not leaving. Every now and again, he'd knock, rapping his knuckles in a line low along the door.

"'Come on,' he repeated in a sing-song voice. 'I won't tell.' He eventually left."

CNN reached out to Roethlisberger for comment. We have not heard back. But in January, after a few of the details came out in "In Touch" magazine, Roethlisberger's agent said Roethlisberger was aware of it but had no intention of addressing the story.

President Trump has never spoken her name in public nor admitted to any sexual interest. But his spokespeople and attorneys had denied it ever happened again and again.

Trump and Daniels allegedly met months later at the Beverly Hills hotel. She reveals while in his room, as the two were watching TV, Hillary Clinton called. Clinton was vying for the Democratic presidential nomination against Barack Obama.

When he hung up, he was effusive about Hillary. "I love her," he said. "She is so smart." Daniels writes. Fast-forward almost a decade to the Trump and Clinton campaigns and you'd never know it.


TRUMP: Lying, crooked Hillary. She is a liar. She's a liar.


SIDNER: Daniels also reveals, she was raped as a child. She writes, "It happened repeatedly by a man who lived next door to one of her friends. I was nine. I was a child. And then, I wasn't," she writes. He was raping Vanessa, so, I put myself between them, continually offering myself up so he would leave her alone."

Daniels says a school counselor called her a liar when she revealed the rape.

And that's just one of the disturbing details she recounts in her young life. One of the themes that is throughout the book is Stormy Daniels hates being called a liar. And that explains why she went into such detail about President Trump. Her book -- [02:25:00]

SIDNER: -- comes out on October 2nd -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.


CHURCH: Speaking out against sexual assault can be a harrowing experience. Just ahead, we speak with someone who knows what the woman accusing Kavanaugh is going through right now.

Plus a high school friend of the Supreme Court nominee comes to his defense, wait until you hear some of his controversial comments.




CHURCH: Welcome back. I'm Rosemary Church. Time to check the main stories we've been following this hour.


[02:30:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The Senate Judiciary Committee has asked Christine Blasey Ford to appear on Monday. Kavanaugh's accuser says she has received a stunning amount of support from her community, but she's also being the target of vicious harassments since she's told her story. Her attorney spoke with CNN on Tuesday.


LISA BANKS, ATTORNEY FOR CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: She just came forward with these allegations 48 hours ago and since that time she has been dealing with hate mail, harassment, death threats, so she had been spending her time trying to figure out how to put her life back together, how to protect herself and her family.


CHURCH: Critics are questioning why Blasey Ford waited so long before going public with her assault allegations. But for many victim that's not unusual. Rachael Denhollander was one of the first women to accuse former sports doctor Larry Nassar of abuse. She says she stayed silent for years because she saw how other accusers were treated.


RACHAEL DENHOLLANDER, FORMER GYMNAST: I'm sure you need to realize that you are greatly compounding the damage done to these abuse victims by the way you are responding. This, what it took to get here, what we had to go through for our voices to be heard because of their responses of the adults in authority has greatly compounded the damage we suffer and it matters. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: American lawyer and former gymnast Rachael Denhollander joins me now from Kentucky. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

DENHOLLANDER: Thank you for having me.

CHURCH: When you think back, how difficult was it to make that decision to blow the whistle on Larry Nassar and how much strength did you feel you needed to speak up?

DENHOLLANDER: You know, it took years to get to the point of being healed enough and to face what I knew was coming when I spoke out because I knew that Larry would be an international story given who he was and the thought of what that would entail was absolutely terrifying. Now, in addition to that, just the idea of having to verbalize something so shameful, something so private, something so intimate is really terrifying for an abuse victim. It's a horrific process to go through.

CHURCH: And what has life been like since you spoke out about the abuse and how did it change your life?

DENHOLLANDER: It was every bit as difficult and horrific as I expected it to be. You know, a lot of the same things that are being said about Ms. Ford were said about me and they're said about every survivor who comes forward. She's in it for attention. She is in it for the money. She is in it for personal gain. There's a political motivation. Larry actually was running for office at the time I spoke up. Why did she wait so long? You know, those are that attacks that all victims get when they speak up.

And that's one of the reasons we see such a massive delay in disclosures. Now, it is the norm not the exception for it to take years even decades for victims to come forward with their abuse stories. In fact, I have received many, many personal messages from people who are in their 60s and 70s who are telling me for the first time that of their abuse and they still haven't spoken of it to anyone.

CHURCH: Yes. So many people do have their own secrets that they carry throughout their lives regarding this sort of thing. And we know now that Christine Blasey Ford's lawyer has said that she will not appear at the public hearing unless the FBI investigates her allegations. And so far that doesn't look like it's going to happen. We know too that she has been driven be from her home, has received death threats, and is being trolled on social media, and receiving vulgar e-mails.

This as you point out is why people hesitate when it comes to reporting sexual misconduct. Can you relate to most of that? And what do you think Ford is going through right now?

DENHOLLANDER: Yes. I absolutely get it and I think any survivor who has to speak up against their abuser can relate to that, you know, the vulgar e-mails I got those too, you know, the nasty comments. So we got -- we always get those. And that's one of the reasons that is the reason that survivors stay silent. You know, and really I think the lesson that we need to take away here is how we respond when it's in our own community. What do we do when the allegation is in our own community?

Do we listen? Do we pursue the truth? Are we willing to consider or do we have a knee jerk self-protectionist reaction? Because really, you know, everyone is standing to the table. Why didn't she speak up earlier? Why didn't she speak up earlier? And the response that they're giving her precisely proves the point for why she didn't speak up earlier and until that changes, we're not going to be able to see victims who are able to come forward earlier because they know the response that they're going to get.

CHURCH: And of course looking at the public hearing that is set for Monday, we don't know at this point of course if Ms. Ford is going to turn up. But if she did and if she went ahead and did this, we were just going to hear from Brett Kavanaugh and from Christine Blasey Ford and no one else. So it was going to be a he said she said situation.

[02:35:10] It would have been no corroboration. He would have just had to figure out which one they believed. Do you find it extraordinary in 2018? We already saw what went on back in 1991 with Anita Hill. Why has very little changed when it comes to that? Even back then they had witnesses. People would come on either side and give their side of the story. You're a lawyer now of course. S as a lawyer, do you look at that and think what is going on? Why are they not delving deeper into this?

DENHOLLANDER: You know, that is a role that the FBI could play and I would like to see them take that up. But, you know, the reality is that in sexual assault cases, there isn't a lot of evidence most of the time because they're private and that's the nature of sexual assault. That being said prior disclosures are something that an attorney who has experienced in this dynamics would weigh very heavily. That was one of the main pieces of evidence that I brought forward with my prior disclosures including to a medical -- including medical personnel.

And Christine Ford has that. You know, that is something that is probative and indicative that she is telling the truth. It makes her claim worth listening to worth hearing.

CHURCH: Yes, I think for a lot of people, they have to ask the question, what does she gain from going public? And from what she said, it was really she -- that she saw her civic duty. It was her civic duty since this was a lifetime position that Brett Kavanaugh was taking. We will continue to watch this story and to follow it of course. Rachael Denhollander, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. We appreciate it.


CHURCH: Now, the other person who was supposedly in the room when Brett Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted Christine Blasey Ford is speaking out. In a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mark Judge and his attorney write Brett Kavanaugh and I were friends in high school, but I do not recall the party described in Dr. Ford's letter. More to the point, I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes. The judge's past is now coming under intense scrutiny. Here's CNN's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: His name is Mark Judge and he was Brett Kavanaugh's high school friend and classmate. In this yearbook photo, that's judge in the white t-shirt, Kavanaugh next to him in a baseball cap. That photo taken long before judge made a name for himself albeit controversial as a conservative writer and journalist contributing to publications like The Daily Caller and American Spectator.

In his 1997 book, Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk, judge writes about his heavy drinking when he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School describing how once he had a beer. He found it impossible to stop until he was completely annihilated. He said his high school was positively swimming in alcohol. Judge also referenced a Bart O'Kavanaugh who he says vomited in someone's car and then passed out. It's unclear if this is a reference to Brett Kavanaugh.

Mark Judge seems to embrace controversy. In 2006, he asked on whether gay people are perverts and later in 2012 in The Daily Caller, he wrote that the odds were very high that a black person had stolen his bike. In a 2013 piece for The Daily Caller, he denounced former President Barack Obama writing that he doesn't have just a streak of the feminine in him. He seems to be a woman and a feminist one at that with a streak of a man in him.


KAYE: Since being named in his latest political firestorm, Mark Judge has deleted much of his presence on social media including shutting down his Twitter account. But enough of his writings are still out there to get a sense of how he views women.


KAYE: In that 2013 piece in The Daily Caller, judge compared Michelle Obama to Laura Bush writing, Michelle is actually more man than her husband. Oh, for the days when President George W. Bush gave his wife Laura a loving but firm pat on the back side in public. The man knew who is boss. Two years later in 2015, judge wrote in splice today about something he called damseling which he described as making a woman a passive damsel in distress who needs rescuing.

Judge wrote about women as early as high school. His year book page included this, "Certain women should be struck regularly like gongs citing Sir Noel Coward." More recently, judge wrote this on the online magazine, Acculturated. There's never any excuse to rape, a crime that I think is almost akin to murder because the rapist kills a part of the human soul. And yet what women wear and their body language also sends signals about their sexuality. [02:40:07] A friend of Kavanaugh's from high school described Mark

Judge to CNN as a, "Joker and a loud mouth." Now, suddenly, all these years later a lawyer from Mark Judge says his client has nothing to say publicly. Randi Kaye, CNN Orlando.


CHURCH: Well, coming up, it has been called the year of the woman in U.S. politics. Why more women than ever are running for office in the upcoming midterm elections. We'll take a look at that when we come back.


CHURCH: 278 women are running for office in the U.S. midterm elections this November, a record number. 16 are running for governor, 23 are looking to gain or hold on to a seat in the Senate, and 239 are running for the House of Representatives. Now, you can see there are far more Democrats running than Republicans. And our CNN's Kyung Lah reports these women come from all walks of life, many fueled by their frustration with President Trump.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are underdogs. They are first time candidates and they are breaking records. Over this entire midterm year, we've been coast-to-coast trying to capture some of these key candidates, women who are part of the year of the woman in 2018.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: March was the start.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Marching was not enough.

KIM SCHRIER (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, WASHINGTON: And so citizens just like me became activated.

LAH: Dr. Kim Schrier, Washington State pediatrician march in 2017. By 2018, she quit her job. Now, she's a Democrat running for Congress. Will women be the difference maker in 2018?

[02:44:58] SCHRIER: I'm counting on it. Really having a miso gist in chief to have as our president a man who grabs women's bodies and has been disrespectful all the way through to women, that drives us.

LAH: Every politician in every town's parade knows they have to press the flesh to ask for votes. But Democrat losing the bat brings a personal story unlike any other.

LUCY MCBATH (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, GEORGIA: Jordan guides me every single day, every single day.

LAH: Her 17-year-old son was gunned down at a Florida gas station six years ago. The gunman saying, he shot Jordan Davis because he felt threatened by him and his friends after complaining they were playing music too loud. McBath, first, a grieving mother at a murder trial. Then, quit her flight attendant job to become a national gun control activist for every town for gun safety. Then, this year, Parkland.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She just shot fired right now guys.

MCBATH: Here we go again.


MCBATH: And then, I saw President Trump sitting with our federal legislature, sitting at the table talking about the NRA, and 24 to 48 hours, he flipped.

LAH: And that's when you decided to run?

Congresswoman Kristi Noem daily ritual. Her path to make history running to be the first woman governor of South Dakota.

REP. KRISTI NOEM (R-SD), HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: I started thinking out of the box. How can I get to have interaction with other members? And for me, it was the gym.

LAH: Noem made the lead to state lawmaker. And in 2010, defeated a popular incumbent to go to Congress. Despite her success, this is what she heard as she announced her historic run for governor.

NOEM: I had a few people tell me that maybe I didn't have the right body parts to be a governor. So, really.

LAH: There's -- there is just.

NOEM: Yes, but you know it's a small minority of folks that we just have to change their perspective.

Well, how are you doing?

LAH: Noem is as uncommon here as she is in Washington. Republican women make up just seven percent of Congress. The unprecedented surge of women running for office this year has been almost completely among Democrats.

Why this year are a record number of women saying that they can run in government?

NOEM: You know, I think it's all about not missing an opportunity. Timing is everything in politics.

LAH: Congresswoman Noem's time may be now. She is regarded as the front-runner.

You prefer a tractor to an airplane?

NOEM: I do, you have control over your own destiny.

LAH: A path she hopes to forge at home. Afghanistan, 2009 in her third tour of duty, Air National Guard pilot Major M.J. Hegar was shot. Hanging on to the outside of a rescue helicopter, standing on the skids all while returning fire to the Taliban.

M.J. HEGAR (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, TEXAS: Kind of got peppered with different pieces of shrapnel.

LAH: You use the tattoo to cover the scars.

HEGAR: Yes. It's hard to walk away from something like that without a sense of second chance and do more with your life and have a purpose.

I'm a veteran.

LAH: Finding that purpose, now --

HEGAR: I'm fighting for this country.

LAH: In her run for Congress.

HEGAR: In this district, Trump won by a lot. The Republican leadership has gone off the freaking rails. And the things that the Republican Party stands, for now, are not representative of the values of the people and this district who have voted Republican.

LAH: She's a Democrat running against a long-term Republican incumbent in a district Trump won by 13 points.

HEGAR: Look at those crowd!

LAH: The veteran status cracking opened doors once thought shut for Democrats.


LAH: 256 women have won House and Senate primaries, 16 women have won gubernatorial primaries. All of these are huge new records. Analysts who watched gender politics believe that all of these women are well poised to smash some records this November. Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.

CHURCH: And still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, the storm has passed but not the danger. More rivers are flooding in North and South Carolina, and thousands are still in harm's way. We're back with that in just a moment


[02:52:59] CHURCH: Well, parts of the Southeastern U.S. are still threatened by the effects of what's left of Hurricane Florence. This is video from one of the several towns in North Carolina where the flooding is getting worse. 14 rivers across the state have reached major flood levels and some continue to rise. The death toll is now up to 36 in three states most of them in North Carolina. Officials there warned the next two days will be extremely critical as thousands of residents are still in danger. So, let's turn to our meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri, joins us from the International Weather Center with the very latest on this flooding. It is just incredible to see the impact to all of this rain is having.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely, and it's only going to get worse for some of these communities as water continues to rise, Rosemary. And you know, we're finally getting some of these satellite images to compare what it looks like before and after the storm where the storm moved ashore, and this is not of Topsail North Carolina

I want to show you Ocean Boulevard, right here. We'll highlight it out for you. This was before the storm, there is Ocean Boulevard. Here's South Anderson Boulevard. We'll give you an act of perspective and notice what happens here with the sand as Florida the ocean literally taking over the first and partially the second blocks of this coastal community.

And, in fact, you get up to the South Anderson Avenue. There you see some sand? Begin it's again and certainly, some of the rooftops have taken damage but a lot of the ocean essentially has consumed the first few hundred meters of land there across the coastal communities. And that's really the devastating perspective, and if you take a look, parts of 50 counties dealing with flood warnings.

Meaning, flooding is imminent or occurring. And, of course, we know it's already occurring. But look at this, ironically the town of Florence, South Carolina underneath the flood warning in space as well.

Pretty expansive region dealing with all of this. And Miss Rosey was talking about upwards of 30 plus gauges now reporting at least some flooding. The forecast going into Wednesday is for 15 river gauges to come in with a major flood stage. And some of these river gauges the factor coming in above -- well above record value.

In fact, 23 or so feet is what the record highest ever observed in some of these river gauges are. Notice by tomorrow morning as the Sun comes up, that's about 27.5 feet as what we expect. And there is a drop in the forecast coming in as we go towards this weekend, but a very gradual one. So, certainly, going to take many more days before conditions that I get back to normal.

And one of the biggest concerns we often talk about when it comes to such flooding and having so much water sitting right there and essentially in a very warm time of year, as well, in place are the contaminants. Whether it be a sewage, chemicals, be sure a waste that gets into the water and kind of sits there for multiple days infectious diseases we've often seen Shigella, Salmonella, E. coli, become very problematic across these parts of the weather -- affect the course of the world.

And, of course, aggressive insects and wildlife also displaced and very much a dangerous scenario for a lot of people to be across in these parts right now when the water is still so high, Rosemary.

[02:55:46] CHURCH: All right. Thank you so much, Pedram for keeping a very close eye on all of that. We'll check back in next hour.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, thousands who have been evacuated from the Carolinas have not been able to return to their homes. And many don't know just how much they've lost to the floods. But now, they can check their property online. New high-definition images taken by planes show specific details of the area's most devastated.

The imagery also helps emergency responders determine which areas need the most help. New photos are taken daily and are posted on the web site of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And thank you so much for joining us this hour. I'm Rosemary Church, remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. And I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. You're watching CNN. Stick around.